A sublimely skilful climber with the vision to match, James has gone from climbing near his family home in the Peak District of England to exploring walls and mountains in exotic locations around the globe everywhere from Tazmania to Thailand. His first venture into rock climbing came at the age of 15 and it was soon clear that he was blessed with a naturally elegant climbing style. However, he also had the dedication and commitment to refine and develop that talent and by the age of 19 he was already one of the UK’s brightest climbing stars. James has been scouring the planet for more demanding challenges ever since.
Birthdate: December 15th, 1985
Hometown: Matlock, Derbyshire, England
Homebase: Connaux, France,
Favourite Book: Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Favourite Music: I listen to a lot of electronic music, but depending on the day, I can also enjoy a bit of cheesy pop, soppy love songs or -God forbid - some R&B.
Favourite Food: Chocolate brownies or lemon curd… but obviously not at the same time! That’s just gross!
How do I focus? Let your body take over and don’t let your mind hold you back.
Best advice ever received: Don’t let go!
What inspires you? People surpassing what they previously thought possible.
Words to live by: “Excess is part of my nature. Dullness is a disease. I really need danger and excitement. I'm never scared of putting myself out on a limb.” (Freddie Mercury)
Favourite fitness exercise: Gymnastics rings.
I don’t leave the house without my … original yellow The North Face Base Camp Duffel. It’s been with me on almost every trip since 2005 and is still going strong.
The North Face - The Search
Movie: The Search, South Africa
Never afraid to challenge or question himself and always happy to try new things, he went on to excel in a broad spectrum of disciplines, from bouldering and sport climbing to trad and multi-pitch. His first ascents of The Groove and The Walk Of Life in the UK, two of the most technically difficult routes in the world, have raised the bar for hard trad climbing. His 2011 “ground up” ascent of Muy Caliente, an incredibly bold and difficult E10 on the imposing sea cliffs of Pembrokeshire, Wales, raised the bar for traditional rock climbing. James continued his success with fast ascents of several hard multi-pitch routes around Europe, including a flash of Mezzogiorno di Fuoco (Fr8b, 270m). In the autumn of 2014 he achieved a coveted ascent of the world’s first E11, Rhapsody, in Dumbarton, Scotland.
After meeting his future wife Caroline Ciavaldini, a fellow climber, in 2010, James embarked on a global climbing odyssey with her, experiencing climbs, sunsets and sunrises around the world from South Africa to the Philippines. Today he adopts a highly focused approach, seeking out technically hard challenges and unclimbed rocks and adapting his training to match. Always eager to share his passion for climbing with new audiences, he is currently writing an adventure travel book with Caroline and the couple have launched the S.P.O.T project which aims to share climbing equipment with developing communities in the Philippines and elsewhere.
Having matured as a man and a climber, James’s dream for the future is to continue to push the technical standards of his climbing with longer, harder and more challenging ascents. He is keen to return to South Africa and the Philippines but above all he remains motivated by the chance to discover new places and to fulfil his lifelong ambition of exploring the unknown.
- Rhapsody - the world’s first and only E11 at Dumbarton Rock, Scotland (2014)
- Muy Caliente E10 ground up - the first and only person in the world to climb E10 without ”top-rope” practice (2011)
- Numerous on-sights of E8’s in Pembroke, The Peak District, and Shropshire - the current top level achieved in this style (2011)
- On-sight first ascents of big wall Sea Cliffs in Tazmania (2010)
- Gerty Berwick - Regarded as the hardest route on Gritstone (2009)
- End Of The Affair - One of the first E8’s to be on-sighted on Gritstone (2008)
- The Walk Of Life - One of the most mentally demanding routes of his career (2008)
- The Groove - The Peak District’s most infamous project (2008)
- Equilibrium - The “original” E10, the fastest and youngest ascent (2005)
- Several Flashes of V13 boulder problems, including:
- The Ganymede Takeover, Brione, CH
- The Great Shark Hunt, Chironico, CH
- Schule des Lebens, Chironico, CH
- Many routes up to Fr9a all around the world
- Several flashes and on-sights up to Fr8b+
- Alanga, Mt Kinabalu, Borneo: 120m, 3 Pitch, Fr8b - Flash, 3rd ascent
- Aria, Punta Plumare, Sardinia: 350m, 10 pitch, Fr8a+ EXPO – 2nd ascent
- Mezzogiorno di Fuoco, Monte Giraldiri, Sardinia 270m, 7 pitch, Fr8b – Flash
- Amico Fragile, Monte Donneneittu, Sardinia: 230m, 6 Pitch, Fr8b
- Joy Division, Qualido Wall, Italy: 800m, 22 pitch, Fr8b - The first “one push” ascent
- Les Chemins Du Katmandou, La Jonte, France: 120m, 3 pitch, Fr8b+ - 3rd Ascent
- Lucifers Lighthouse, Devils Bay, Newfoundland : 400m, 12 pitch, Fr7c – On-sight
- La Cadaire, St Guilhem, France: 140m, 3 pitch, Fr8a – On-sight
- Redemption - Hot Aches Productions (2015)
- Zembrocal - Riky Felderer and Pietro Poro (2013)
- The Odyssey - Hot Aches Productions (2012)
- Hyknusa - Riky Felderer and Pietro Poro (2011)
- Committed Vol 2 - Hot Aches Productions (2009)
- Committed Vol 1 - HotAches Productions (2007)
- Hard XS - SlackJaw Film (2006)
- West Coast Gimps - Chris Doyle (2004)